MLB: After successful road trip, Red Sox begin series vs. Jays

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The Boston Red Sox look to get the best of an American League East rival for the second straight week, beginning another three-game series against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays, who will head to Fenway Park for the first time this season on Monday.

It has been a winning stretch for Boston, which took series from the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees on their last homestand before going 5-1 on a trip through Toronto and Cincinnati.

The Red Sox are 9-2 over their past 11 games after heading home following a 7-4 win over the Reds on Sunday, moving them into the third American League wild-card position.

Boston manager Alex Cora sees a talented team from top to bottom that is “playing with joy.”

“We went from a roster that we had some question marks early on in the season and now it feels like it’s one of the best rosters position-player-wise that we’ve had in a while,” Cora said. “From one to 13, we’re not afraid to play them. We’re in a good spot right now.”

Jarren Duran finished a highlight-filled series with a 3-for-5 performance Sunday to extend his hitting streak to 13 games. He also stole his 20th base.

“He works so hard and he now understands what he needs to do to play every day, to keep his energy the way he should,” Cora said.

Of course, starting pitching has also been a major strength. Tanner Houck (7-5, 2.14 ERA) is slated to pitch on Monday.

Houck allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits and struck out five in 5 2/3 innings Tuesday at Toronto. The right-hander had a streak of five straight outings of at least six innings snapped, but the Red Sox were eventual 4-3 winners en route to the series sweep.

Houck, who is 0-1 with a 4.26 ERA in six career outings (five starts) against Toronto, has still not allowed more than three earned runs in 12 straight starts dating to April 12.

“I’ve always known I can do better,” Houck said recently. “I’ve always known that I had the ability to do it and it was just kind of putting it together.”

The Blue Jays are trending in the opposite direction, having lost six straight and fallen to seven games under .500 after being swept in Cleveland.

On top of the extended skid, Orelvis Martinez — the organization’s star prospect who recorded his first major league hit Friday — received an 80-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.

“We’re in a tough stretch right now,” Toronto manager John Schneider said.

The Blue Jays rallied late only to leave two runners on base in the ninth on Sunday.

Still, Spencer Horwitz hit his first two home runs of the season and scored three times. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. also had two hits, including a long ball of his own.

“It was kind of the story of the season — not hitting as many as we can and giving up more than we should,” Schneider said.

Replacing Martinez, Steward Berroa was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo and made a late-game appearance in center field. It was his MLB debut after climbing the ladder since 2017.

“I think a lot of players in the minor leagues have that thought sometimes, where you don’t think that the dream is going to come,” Berroa said. “But, in the end, I’m just a warrior. I like to be in tough moments. … I just keep going.”

The Blue Jays have not announced starting pitchers for the series in Boston.

–Field Level Media

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